In 2009, Amelie Chabannes began working with identity as a subject, not via the usual autobiographical route, but rather through combining an objective interest in philosophy, psychology, and art history. For her new site-specific project at The Aldrich, she has created three wall drawings that engage not only with these subjects, but also with the concept of iconoclasm: the willful destruction of imagery—used here by Chabannes as a technique to challenge and transform the work of her artistic predecessors. Two of the drawings are based on iconic photographs of performances by artists Marina Abramovic ́ and Ulay, while one is based on an image of the seminal 1970 performance Singing Sculpture by the duo Gilbert & George.
Chabannes was attracted to these figures because of their attempts to merge two personalities into one identity, what is referred to in psychology as “fusion.” Defined as the desire of two individuals to become one, which is most commonly manifested by the popular romantic notion of “two halves make a whole,” fusion is fueled by the belief—both conscious and unconscious— that bliss is achieved through unity. Yet if fusion is taken to an extreme, the result can be the pathology of damaging dependency, or an attempt at a kind of liberation.
Using archeological procedures as a metaphor for the processes in psychology that uncover and expose the self, Chabannes has not only destroyed the images of her predecessors, but also dug through the images and into the infrastructure of the Museum. The process of excavation (and discovery) will continue throughout the exhibition as she periodically returns to continue to burrow into the Museum’s walls.
Chabannes’s use of the phrase “the fourth hand” refers to art historian Charles Green’s book The Third Hand: Collaboration in Art from Conceptualism to Postmodernism. The title relates to the timeless notion of “the hand of the artist” and how, through sustained collaboration, two artists can create a third hand, a new and separate creative identity. Chabannes takes this notion one step further: through her appropriation and manipulation of images that document artistic relationships, her hand literally creates a fourth identity.
Richard Klein, Exhibitions Director.